by: Darren Baker [ ]
MiniArt continues to add new diorama products to their already impressive range of offerings, and this time fast on the heels of their German signage and Allied offerings is another German set covering the Ardennes. This offering will cover the period from Germanyís annexation of the Ardennes to the Battle of the Bulge. The Ardennes region of Belgium was a part of Germany prior to the end of World War One and a lot of Belgians from this area ended up in the German Army with a pension from Belgium after the war.
MiniArt is well known as a provider of figures and diorama elements with this offering fitting in perfectly with their range. This offering is provided in one of the end opening cartons used for their figures, I do wish MiniArt and others would switch to boxes rather than end opening containers as they tend to be more robust and also provide somewhere to keep the items built until needed. Inside there is a single bag containing five sprues in grey styrene plus the signage on a very nice decal sheet. The instructions and painting suggestions are on the rear of the carton.
MiniArt has provided parts from their wooden and concrete telegraph pole offering for mounting the signage on, and while I like that product I would not use the wooden telegraph pole set for this offering, I would prefer to find natural wood to cover this aspect for its realism and non conformity. As such I would assemble the telegraph poles as the original release intended. This part of the set does need some clean up as flash is starting to appear in places, but a little clean up will result in a pleasing finish. The concrete telegraph pole has all of the parts needed to use as a phone or power pole and could be used for lighting, but I do not like the look of the pole in that set up.
The arrows and smaller boards are the same as the other two releases and offer a good mix of shapes and sizes, even though this aspect is a repeat of previous releases it does not detract from its appeal in any way. The boards have good rough wood texture and planking effect that when painted and weathered has the ability to be very convincing.
The decal sheet is well done with very good clarity and colour; the presented images are very convincing and are nicely thin. With that said I do have an issue with this set as regards the decals that has not bothered me previously; a lot of the signage is on bare wood or painted wood and that aspect has been replicated well, but I would have preferred the signs to have been the wording and images and not the painted wood aspect as I think it will make it more difficult to match the reverse sides of the signs.
This offering from MiniArt is a very nice offering in most respects other than my preference for the decals to have been the words and images without the painted wood effect behind them. The telegraph poles are suitable for displaying the boards, but I would utilise suitable wood from outside as it will save painting and result in a more realistic finish, the telegraph pole set looks good as it was originally intended. So this set is one of those that is handy to have in the stash for when the need arises.